Queer intersections with Environmentalism

Annie Graham, Sculpture and Environmental Art

My work is a testament to overcoming the intimidation of a sculptural practice which is historically represented by the white heterosexual man. Like many other queer creatives, my primary areas of interest growing up came from monsters and mythology. Informed by extensive analyses of Ovid’s Metamorphoses and Braidotti’s concept of becoming monster, my practice seeks to interrogate early discourses of sexuality, gender and subjectivity and dismantle stereotypes in traditional woodwork and construction. Observing modes of articulation in childhood toys reintroduced me to the act of learning through making. The notion of play extends my personal relationship with making to the audience and subverts polarities such as fear and attraction; beauty and repulsion.

I am interested in how queer issues intersect with environmentalism and how queer theory can inform our understanding of sustainability. Thinking of the term “craft” as a transformative and non-linear process, the work aims to rebirth, or recode, politics behind the workshop – without gender politics being imposed onto myself as an artist. My practice is not intended as “female artist within the workshop”, rather how can I master my craft in order to create space and accessibility for others that aren’t traditionally invited into such spaces. This accessibility is reflected in my chosen materials. During my time at art school I took issue with the large amounts of waste coming from both the industrial works of the buildings and also within the student workshops. Large offcuts of industrial pine are discarded and consequently more trees are felled, processed and then discarded in a cycle. Seeing the sculptural potential in the discarded wood I decided to highlight this issue and strictly carve this waste. Giving discarded materials new life as artworks, the idea of transformation is central to my concept development.

As a working class artist, repurposing these scrap materials into art objects is cost effective which is something that often limits students who do not have a large expendable income to produce work. By addressing how art schools might lower their carbon footprint in this way we can mitigate our effect on the environment and see the bigger picture of the harmful effects of the wood industry. The importation of exotic woods is predominantly unsustainable and unethically sourced. Violating the rights of indigenous people, deforestation is harmful to the planet and is historically engrained with the slave trade.

Borneo cedar was prized by the wealthy who decorated their stately homes with bespoke carved furniture and wood panelled interiors. Before the COVID-19 lockdown I was selected to create an artwork carved from repurposed pinewood for the Cedar Room of Pollok House, Glasgow. Practicing truth to the materials I prioritise the process becoming a part of the work. Visible tool marks and unvarnished surfaces are evidence to the objects construction but also contrast and comment on the veneered material history and context of the space.

Ministrations film


Ministrations, (2020.) Pollok House, Glasgow. [Recycled pine wood]. Group SEA4 Exhibition, ‘Call and Response’.

(detail) Ministrations, (2020.) Pollok House, Glasgow. [Recycled pine wood]. Group SEA4 Exhibition, ‘Call and Response’.

(video) Ministrations, Pollok House, Glasgow. [Recycled pine wood]. Group SEA4 Exhibition, ‘Call and Response’.

Untitled. Large articulated python with engorged stomach that opens with cabinet style door. Carved during COVID-19 lockdown. [recycled industrial pine and brass handle.]

Untitled spider infested head carved during lockdown in response to COVID-19. [scrap industrial pine].

Untitled work in progress carved during COVID-19 lockdown. [Carved recycled industrial pine.]

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